AT&T Says It Will Begin Prorating Termination Fees

Maybe the T-Mobile lawsuit has scared AT&T a bit, because they’ve announced that they’re changing their early termination policy: they will now prorate termination fees instead of charging a flat fee. They’re also removing the policy that required existing customers to extend a current agreement or sign up for a new one when changing their level of service. No word on when these changes will go into effect, but there’s nothing on their website yet.

Entirely by coincidence, the announcement comes the same week that the Senate Commerce Committee is holding hearings on consumer wireless plans. A guy in a monkey suit at JD Power & Associates explains, “Carriers want to be able to show they can self-regulate and not have to have regulations imposed on them.”

This is like that scene in “Return of the Jedi” when Darth Vader’s helmet is removed: he’s doesn’t exactly become less evil, but we see a more human face.

“AT&T changes fee policy for customer contracts” [Reuters]
“AT&T Eases Plan Switching Penalties as Congress Mulls Action” [CRM Buyer]


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  1. Chris says:

    This is like that scene in “Return of the Jedi” when Darth Vader’s helmet is removed: he’s doesn’t exactly become less evil, but we see a more human face.
    I couldn’t wait for it to go back on, though. :)
    Good thing I’ll never be switching to AT&T.

  2. azntg says:

    Now that’s the spirit! Too bad they won’t do this kind of stuff BEFORE threats of litigation or regulation comes in. I guess if the companies are hell bent on making money, we have to be hell bent on getting them to work the way we want if we want to get what we want.

    Unfortunately, this news was a little bit too late for me, as I had to get a new contract to add an extra line on my family account (switched from the legacy AT&T wireless to the then Cingular Wireless plan. Lost the unlimited incoming text, but at least with rollover, no way in hell are we going to go over minutes anytime soon).

  3. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    “Regulate themselves…” We also said the same thing about Blackwater USA, Mattel, Microsoft, Best Buy, Walmart, Yum foods, the list doesn’t end. Obviously moderate regulation is necessary.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I read about this earlier today on Gizmodo and tried to give the ol’ Death Star a call. No such luck. The support rep I spoke with thought I was crazy for even asking about a “pro-rated termination fee.” I decided to level-up by calling the Executive Customer Support # (thx Consumerist!). Again, no luck. The case manager I spoke with was also unaware of any such policy :(


    …”Under AT&T’s new approach, the early-termination fee would be progressively reduced over the life of the plan. It would apply “early in 2008″ to new and current customers who sign one- or two-year contracts.”

  5. faust1200 says:

    Darth is actually a blues man. []

  6. FMulder says:

    I am linked to the deathstar and my termination fees are already pro-rated. It is a carry over from being with cingular I think. I have had several agents tell me (upon my inquiry and discussion of leaving) that my termination fee is not pro-rated, then I make them check terms for my specific account (and the notes I asked a prior csr to leave with my account) and they find that yeppers, pro-rated.

  7. Sam2k says:

    Here’s the press release [] for anyone else who has trouble believing AT&T would be this nice.

  8. This is like that scene in “Return of the Jedi” when Darth Vader’s helmet is removed: he’s doesn’t exactly become less evil, but we see a more human face.


  9. Sam2k says:

    I just got an email from AT&T to agents.

    “The second enhancement communicated in today’s press release is a change in the Fixed Early Termination Fee to a Prorated Early Termination Fee, scheduled to be implemented in the first quarter of 2008. This new Prorated Early Termination Fee would have a declining balance instead of the current flat fee imposed when disconnecting service while still in an active contract. More information will be provided when it becomes available.”

  10. mxx says:

    according to press release at [] . it says starting November 2007 a change to a call plan would no longer result in a new contract.

  11. suedehead4 says:

    I just had a really good experience with AT&T re. this (it will take hours to recover from the shock). The news release on their website says these changes go into effect in November, but I called and they said they’d change my rate plan without extending my contract. I’d gone way into overages on my plan this month and the CSR figured out that if I switched to a much higher rate plan today (pro rated) I could pay $8 more for this month, wipe out the $50+ in overages I’d already incurred for this month and have some more anytime minutes to last me until Nov. 1. At that point my plan is set to drop down again (although to something higher than I what I had when I called).

    Never thought I’d be saying this, but good work AT&T.